In a blockbuster winner-takes-all clash at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals Thursday, it was Jack Draper who stepped up and delivered, defeating Italian Lorenzo Musetti 4-1, 4-0, 4-3(3) to reach the semi-finals in Milan.
Draper and Musetti headed into the match holding a 1-1 record in the Red Group, knowing only a win would be enough for them to join Dominic Stricker in the last four. In front of a packed Italian crowd, Draper produced a ruthless display to silence the home supporters, punching holes in the Musetti defence with his fierce groundstrokes to advance.
“Yesterday I played a bit better than my first match and then today I really hit some form,” Draper said. “I played well, served great. Lorenzo is a great player and he may have been a bit tired after his match yesterday, but I am glad with the way I played today.”
The 20-year-old, who is making his debut at the 21-and-under event, flew out of the blocks, hitting his flat backhand through the court. The Italian, who took a tumble at the start of the second set, was unable to handle Draper’s aggressive forehand and swinging lefty serve, with the Briton overpowering the Italian to earn his 19th tour-level win of the season.
“I like crowds, if they are with me or not,” Draper said. “This is what I have wanted to do since I was young. I wanted to entertain people. This is why I train every day.”
With his 56-minute victory, Draper has set a semi-final meeting against 21-year-old American Brandon Nakashima on Friday. Stricker will face Jiri Lehecka in the other semi-final.
Draper has enjoyed a breakthrough year. He won four ATP Challenger Tour titles, before he upset Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the quarter-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Montreal.
Home favourite Musetti lifted tour-level trophies in Hamburg and Naples this season, but was unable to find his best level in Milan, falling at the round-robin stage for the second consecutive season.